The head of a Midland film company has accused the BBC of giving the region “the scraps from the BBC’s plate” in its recently-announced plans to increase out-of-London spending to 50 per cent.
Simon Woods, producer at European Drama Network, said the BBC was neglecting Midland drama production.
He added the broadcaster’s “beyond the M25” plans would not help fulfil its intention of better reflecting the diversity of creative talent around the UK.
The BBC announced plans last week to increase its out-of-London programme spend to 50 per cent by 2016, including moving production of the Chelsea and Hampton Court Flower Shows to Birmingham.
The broadcaster said the city would become a centre for horticulture programming under the new plans, as well as for factual and drama now that the future of long-standing series Doctors has been assured for three more years.
Recent factual titles produced here include Coast and Trawler Men. But despite the presence of Doctors in the city, Mr Woods accused the broadcaster of squeezing drama production out of the Midlands.
He said: “Given the amount of money and prominence given to drama within the BBC, the Midlands is effectively being cut out of the key areas of BBC production.
“How can the region reflect its diversity of talent?”
Mr Woods said the centralisation of decision-making in the BBC in England, combined with the staff movement between the BBC and independent production companies, has created a culture where everybody in the TV sector increasingly thinks alike.
“This sought-after diversity is not about where you make it but where you make the decisions about making it.”
But the BBC denied suggestions that it was too London-centric in its decision-making.
A BBC spokeswoman said the broadcaster had drama commissioning executives in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.
“Their role is to develop and nurture creative talent,” she said. “Diversity will be reflected by our commissioning teams who are fully committed to doing this. It’s not because of where they are based.”
“We have recently recommissioned the series Doctors in Birmingham and the drama village has produced other areas of drama production previously such as The Afternoon Plays.
“We are open to good TV drama ideas from wherever they come in the country.
“It’s not viable for every part of the country to have an extensive production base for drama.”
Mr Woods suggested one way which the BBC could encourage more regional drama production was to increase the amount of non-commissioned drama it buys.
“The BBC should seek to develop other voices and regional production by a greater acquisition of non-commissioned drama, to overcome the problems of a centralised commissioning and planning,” he said.
But he added: “I recognise that in criticising the BBC’s plans it is very unlikely that I will ever be commissioned to make drama or have my content acquired by the BBC.”
Mr Woods’ company European Drama Network is a producer of movies and an on-line home cinema distributor and Internet TV broadcaster.